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3 Months at CERN - Eurail Global Pass?

All,

I will be working at CERN for 3 months as a student research assistant this Fall. I have added up 5 weekend trips I am planning on taking and my train costs are already soaring above $1200. My planned trips include going to Oktoberfest (Geneva to Munich), Paris, Bern, The Golden Pass Scenic Train, and Barcelona, among others.

I am thinking it makes sense to buy the Eurail 3-Month Global Pass. Does anyone have any advice on whether or not this is a good decision?

I would appreciate any feedback!

P.S. In particular, the 5 trips I researched added up to over $1300 (round trip): Geneva to Munich ($410), Geneva to Paris ($213), Geneva to Bern ($120), Golden Pass ($240), and Geneva to Barcelona ($342).

  • Joe
Posted by
15826 posts

You might want to buy a Swiss 1 year half fare card. Other than that, advance purchase fares should suit you fine.

Posted by
4 posts

Most of the high-cost trips are traveling out of Switzerland, i.e. Geneva to Paris. It seems as if the Half-Off SBB Pass only applies the discount on travel within Switzerland, correct? It is a lot more affordable than the Eurail Global pass though...

Posted by
12040 posts

" I have added up 5 weekend trips I am planning on taking and my train costs are already soaring above $1200." What website did you use and did you consider the 2nd class advanced purchase discounts offered by many of the national rail operators? If you used RailEurope or EUrail for your estimates, there's the first mistake. These websites usually only give you the price of a full price first class ticket.

Many of the trips you mentioned would be easier flying.

Finally, as a student, you would probably qualify for some kind of special discount from Swiss Federal Railways, but you can figure that out when you arrive.

Posted by
4 posts

@Tom

Thanks for the reply!

I actually have been using Rome2Rio.com for all pricing. I'm not sure how accurate their rail prices are, but it is certainly the easiest way to look them up.

I agree; many of the trips are cheaper to fly, although to be honest I'm looking forward to the train rides themselves in a way.

What sites should I be using to find realistic rail prices for travel within Europe?

Posted by
2353 posts

Congrats on CERN! A lot of students would love that chance!

Each country has a rail site with the best prices. A lot will depend on whether you know your dates in advance or will these be trips when you get the chance? If you can not commit to a date in advance use the standard fare pricing for comparison. There is a fairly new site that has tickets:

https://www.capitainetrain.com/search/
They sell SNCF, Eurostar, Lyria, Thalys, iDTGV, OUIGO, iDBUS and Deutsche Bahn tickets

For Switzerland:
http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html

For Germany:
http://www.bahn.de/p_en/view/index.shtml

For France:
http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/

For Spain:
http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/index.html

Some routes - Geneva - Barcelona - 10 to 12 hrs by train might make more sense to fly check
http://www.skyscanner.com/
for fares

Posted by
6276 posts

Hi Joe. I use Rome2rio to get a general idea of what types of transportation are available between two places and approximate length of time for each, it's a good research tool for that. However, I found out early on that they also usually give the price of a full-price 1st class ticket purchased day of travel, so never use them for prices, there's much better deals out there - definitely research the train prices on the individual countries' train websites that are listed above.

Good luck with your planning.

Posted by
16832 posts

If those are your primary trips by train within a 2-month travel window which starts when you have the pass activated at a train station, then you could use a Select pass for 11 travel days within 2 months in those 4 countries (purchase by Sept. 28) for $531 (2nd class youth price), plus required seat reservations on French TGV trains. If you plan a lot of other trips, then those affect the calculation.

I would fly to Barcelona to save both time and money, see www.skyscanner.com; and your 4 countries would not need to include Spain. If the flights can be timed before or after the two-month period of rail pass use, then that may be another reason not to need a 3-month pass for $1421.

Any "unallocated" days of the railpass can be used for most trains and lake boats within Switzerland. The Eurail pass can also give you some Swiss mountain lift discounts, even on days that you're not counting as rail pass travel days, but if you also had a Half-Fare Card, then you'd use that, instead.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you, everyone!

@Christi,
Thank you so much! I'm very excited to start!

CapitaineTrain was a splendid suggestion. They have a great search tool, for the rail lines that are supported. Other than the Oktoberfest trip, the other trips will likely be on a somewhat short notice (like a week or two). Either way, I found greatly reduced fare costs by just searching the SBB website.

I'm considering buying the Swiss 1-Year Half-Fare Card, as long as the savings add up to 175CHF.

@Nancy: Good call. I based my pricing, and thus reasoning for perhaps buying the Eurail pass, on their prices, but I have found some of the fares to be significantly less. Some are spot on, even for 2nd Class 'Youth', but most are quite a bit cheaper.

@Laura: Thank you for the suggestions! I think I'm going to just go with the Half-Fare Card, and then look for cheap flights to Barcelona, and even Munich, although (and this may be something that could be added to the website) it turns out that for trips that originate in Switzerland and extend into either Germany or Austria, the German or Austrian rails give a 25% discount on that portion of the trip.